Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Chris Rodda Headshot

The Congressional Prayer Caucus and the House Science Committee -- A Disturbing Combination

Posted: Updated:

First we had Congressman Todd Akin's insane theory that a woman can't get pregnant from a rape because their body somehow knows the difference and does something to not get pregnant. Soon after Akin made that utterly unscientific statement, people started talking about how this Bible-believing-batshitterist was, incredibly, on the House Science Committee.

Now we have Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia stating that evolution and the big bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of Hell." And, guess what? Broun is also on the House Science Committee.

Here's some more of what Broun said:

"All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior."

"You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don't believe that the Earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That's what the Bible says."

In 2011, during a period of that especially crazy weather that those pesky scientists tend to attribute to climate change, another member of the Science Committee, Congressman Randy Neugebauer of Texas, came up with a very scientific solution. He introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to pray for fair weather. His resolution resolved that "people in the United States should join together in prayer to humbly seek fair weather conditions, including calm skies in the South and lower Midwest where tornadoes have ravaged homes and uprooted families, and for rain where rain is most needed in the South and Southwest, where devastating drought and dangerous wildfires have destroyed homes, businesses, and lives."

What nobody seems to have noticed is that Akin, Broun, Neugebauer, and all the other members of Congress spewing these idiotic faith-based "science" theories have something else in common besides being ignorant twits. They all belong to Congressman Randy Forbes's Congressional Prayer Caucus. These are the wingnuts who do things like holding prayer vigils to pray that votes on legislation go their way.

I first became aware of the Congressional Prayer Caucus back in 2007, when the founder of this nut brigade, Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia, introduced H. Res. 888, his resolution "Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as 'American Religious History Week' for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith." That resolution, which has been re-introduced several times since 2007, was a litany of historical revisionism, with seventy-five "Whereas" clauses packed with same American history lies used by Forbes's good buddy pseudo-historian David Barton.

Then, because of working for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I happened to notice something else about the Congressional Prayer Caucus. There is always a disproportionate number of Prayer Caucus members on the House Armed Services Committee. There are roughly twice as many Prayer Caucus members on the Armed Services Committee as there are proportionally in the House as a whole.

Knowing that both Akin and Broun are Prayer Caucus members as well as being members of the House Science Committee, I decided to look at the make-up of the Science Committee, and here's what I found:

Eleven members of the Science Committee are also members of Randy Forbes's Prayer Caucus. This is disturbing since we're talking about people who reject science being on a Science Committee, but the number is not out of proportion. Nearly a quarter of the members of our House of Representatives now belong to the Prayer Caucus (OK, that's disturbing enough in itself), but the House Science Committee has forty members, making eleven Prayer Caucus members about a quarter of that committee.

But then I looked at the subcommittees of the Science Committee, and that's where things get really disturbing. Five of the twelve members of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education are Prayer Caucus members. This is the subcommittee that has "legislative jurisdiction and general oversight and investigative authority on all matters relating to science policy and science education." It also has jurisdiction over research and development relating to health and biomedical programs. So, what we've got here is a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the very issues and programs where religious beliefs are most likely to clash with science being disproportionately packed with the people most likely to go with religion over science.

The biggest disproportion of all? Of the 105 members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, only four are Democrats (3.8%), but two of the four Democrats (50%) on the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education are Prayer Caucus members.

Register To Vote